Planning an Agile Workplace? Here’s some things you need to know.

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April 17, 2018

By: Linda Kramer, Occupancy Planning, JLL & Katie Rodrigues, Workplace Strategy, JLL

Agile methodology used to be the sole domain of computing and IT departments. Today, the concept has spread to working in general—including the workplaces in which the work is performed. So, when you’re thinking about the future of work, agility should be top of mind.

Formation before function

Agile methodology was conceived as a management concept to speed IT projects, such as software development, forward quickly. It calls for tasking tight, agile teams with solving problems and completing small “snack-able” tasks within a larger project, rather than assigning a large team in long, draw-out assignments. In essence, baby steps.

“….nearly 80 percent of executives agree that the future workforce will be structured more around projects and collaborative teams than by job function.”

Agility is becoming an essential ingredient for success in today’s digitally disrupted economy, where companies are forced to respond quickly or risk being left behind. No wonder, then, that companies and industries attuned to the Future of Work are embracing agile methodology and the agile workplace. ‘Swarming’ as Gartner has dubbed it, is becoming the dominant mode of work. As Accenture reports, nearly 80 percent of executives agree that the future workforce will be structured more around projects and collaborative teams than by job function.

Out-nimble the competition

Agile has been adopted as an approach to all kinds of projects, not just IT or product development. In an ongoing digital world, companies need to be nimble to stay competitive, and agile fits the bill for many, including financial services, life science research and development, and consumer products. Even some sectors of the U.S. Government are embracing agile thinking.

“In the workplace, agility means open, flexible, collaborative space…and plenty of it.”

To achieve agility, companies, institutions, even government agencies need to make sure their workplace fits the bill too.  In the workplace, agility means open, flexible, collaborative space…and plenty of it.  But within that context, how should the space look and feel?

8 ways you can implement agility

Here are 8 things JLL Workplace Strategy experts say companies need to consider when planning the perfect agile workplace.

  1. Agile is about openness, connectedness and flexibility. Simplify the environment as much as possible before adding walls or buying expensive furniture.
  2. One of the biggest strengths of Agile is that it puts the user as the focal point of the solution, which should also be considered for an agile team’s space. Agile work is also about cultural and organizational change. Consider team members’ needs when designing space, and an agile mindset to change management.
  3. Agile environments aren’t always just about teamwork—they’re also about providing a choice of workspaces for different kinds of work. Be sure to provide complementary areas for isolated “heads-down” work. You don’t need fixed desks for every person, but a selection of individual, unassigned workspaces that team members can reserve on a first-come, first-served basis.
  4. Make a space for stand-up meetings. Agile methodology emphasizes short stand-up meetings over lengthy sit-downs, so consider table heights, adjustability and mobility to accommodate stand-up get-togethers. Video for remote team members may also be needed.
  5. Agile working should be exciting and inspiring. Inspire the buzz with the colors and furnishings that set the tone of the space.
  6. Keep your agile space visible. The agile space should advertise the benefits of agile work to the internal team and neighboring teams, as well as to the rest of the company, visitors, and clients.
  7. Messiness can be a critical part of agile working. Vertical surfaces for pin-up, Whiteboards, monitors, burn-down charts and other visible signs of creativity and collaboration will inevitably become part of the space, so make it accessible and organized.
  8. Don’t get too attached to your current workplace layout. Agile organizations have a tendency to periodically reconfigure their structures, reteam and pivot in new directions. Your workplace should be as agile as your business strategy, and designed as a kit-of-parts that adjusts as your teams’ size and needs change

Summary

The agile workplace has clear benefits beyond inspiring creativity, workflow and productivity. A well-designed agile workspaces will improve your overall use of space, making real estate more cost-effective your company. And, creating a new design is also an opportunity to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and costs through new green and sustainable materials and technologies. A sustainable office can improve productivity, too, by boosting employee health and wellbeing.

Agile Work 101 (Terminology)

Heartbeat retrospective

  • Meeting held regularly in which scrum team reflects on most significant events to have occurred since last HR and identifies areas for improvement.

 Information radiator

  • A highly-visible display that provides team with up-to-date scrum information at a glance. A scrum team might use more than one information radiator.

 Scrum

  • A process framework used to manage product development and other knowledge work.

 Sprint

  • The period of time set for a specific project, typically 2 – 4 weeks.

 Scrum Master

  • Person who ensures that the scrum team abides by agile values and follows all agreed-on practices during the scrum.

 Quick design session

  • A whiteboard session between two or more team members

Agile Space 101 (Space)

Co-create Space

  • An open forum space for communication, with areas for sitting and standing, designed to encourage staff to walk up and participate.

Sprint Space

  • A space that facilitates agile development – fast-paced interactions that speed decision making and information flow.

Think Space

  • A space that allows a user to sit on their own or with a colleague, but blocks out other distractions.

Innovation Studio

  • A project space designed to encourage cross-pollination, sharing of ideas and making thinking visible across multiple disciplines.

Demountable Meeting Pod

  • A pod constructed in less than one hour and built to any size to create a discrete, temporary meeting area with reticulating air and three modes of lighting. It has clear, frosted, pinnable and whiteboard movable panels. Flexible ceiling sprinklers allow pods to be placed anywhere within a larger floor space.

For more on JLL’s view of the Agile Workplace, check out the stories below or visit our Office Renew website here.


About us

Linda Kramer,  West Region Occupancy Planning

With a foundation in corporate interior architecture, I now enjoy my role overseeing occupancy planning accounts, and supporting our teams to plan for people to be at their best in office environments, within the goals of the client organization. Using the lifecycle of space data management and analysis, utilization methodologies, and cross-collaboration with internal partners, we work to optimize real estate and find efficiencies for clients.

You can reach me directly by email at Linda.Kramer@am.jll.com and via phone at +1 (213) 808-7922.

 

 

 

Katie Rodrigues, San Francisco, West Region Workplace Strategy

I’ve worked with companies all over the world on developing and evolving workplace strategies for over a decade. I’m passionate about helping companies develop workplaces that foster their culture and help the business thrive. My focus is on supporting the people who use these spaces so they are productive, healthy and have a great experience while at work.

You can reach me directly by email at Katie.Rodrigues@am.jll.com and via phone at +1 (415) 395-7202.

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